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A grain of salt in poll regarding Senate coalition [updated]
Quinnipiac University released a poll Wednesday that at first blush indicates the public is willing to give the new coalition running the state Senate a chance.
But it’s also worth taking a closer look at the somewhat vague questions posed by the pollsters.
The survey found 48 percent of voters would prefer a coalition of Democrats and Republicans to “share power in deciding what bills come up for a vote,” compared to 31 percent who favor Democrats and 17 percent Republicans.
It should be noted that pollsters didn’t fully explain all the circumstances of the new coalition to those surveyed, which arguably could have altered responses.
To recap: Democrats appeared on the verge of wresting control of the Senate when Election Day results showed them leading in 33 of 63 races. But since then, six Democrats have said they would join with 30 Republicans to form a governing coalition.
Now look more closely at the survey. Broken down by party, 40 percent of enrolled Democrats said they would prefer a coalition to control the Senate — it’s not hard to figure that number could have been much lower if respondents were told that their party won a majority of seats on Election Day.
Conversely, 55 percent of enrolled Republicans said they would prefer the GOP to control the Senate and 40 percent said coalition. In all likelihood, the number of Republicans supporting a coalition would be much higher if they were told the alliance might be the only way for GOP senators to have a share of control.
Republicans surveyed might have responded the same way Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) did when asked Wednesday about how Republican senators viewed the alliance after a closed-door conference Tuesday.
"We would have preferred a clear majority," Marcellino said. "But this (the coalition) is better than the alternative" of being in the minority.
UPDATE: Spokesmen for the Senate Republicans and for the Independent Democratic Conference (the groups forming the coalition) issued the following joint statement regarding the poll:
"After two statewide polls, it's now clear that New Yorkers want abipartisan approach to governing. After all, governing is about results, not party politics, and New Yorkers have made that statement resoundingly clear. By working together, with Republicans and Democrats, the senate's new governing coalition will focus on results benefitting New Yorkers statewide. Senate Co-Leaders Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein look forward to working together to build upon the bipartisan successes of the last two years and to driving our state forward."